Friday, 25 February 2011

Daffodils and Dragons - Folksy Friday No 34

Next Tuesday, March 1st, is St David's Day. Here are my choices in celebration! Click on any item to visit it on its Folksy shelf.

Molly Moo and Jessica too Bags of Swank
Buttercup's Bits & Bobs! Cinnamon Street

Molly Moo and Jessica too

Bags of Swank

Buttercup's Bits & Bobs

Cinnamon Street



Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Happy Thinking Day

A day of coincidences!

Lord and Lady Baden Powell (founders of Scouting and Girlguiding) shared a birthday - today! Now celebrated by members of Girlguiding, throughout the world, as Thinking Day.

I was not a member of Girlguiding as a child, but with a birthday of 22nd February, I was unlikely to remain uninvolved, particularly when my daughter joined Brownies.

Most often falling during half term, when many packs and groups do not meet, it can be difficult to convey the significance to the younger ones. My Brownies next meet on 1st March, when we shall celebrate both Thinking Day and St David's Day. We tend to pick a region in the world which has Brownies. Learn what they are called, what their uniform looks like, learn to say a few simple words in their language and, if possible sample their food. A few years ago we picked Australia and, in an attempt to convey distance, and time difference, we spent the evening in pyjamas, with our teddies, and ate breakfast. We always re-new our promise - adults and children alike. The older ones still remember our pyjama party, but struggle to remember why we did it - we did our best!

A few years ago, one of my Brownies emigrated to New Zealand. Girlguiding will be in my thoughts today, with particular time spent in thinking of those in New Zealand, in the light of this morning's news.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

'Daisy leftovers'

Daisy was a bit of fun to stitch and I really like her.

The remainder of that piece of painted fabric has now become this:

Several hours of hand-stitching, not counting painting the fabric, and I am pleased with the result.

Friday, 18 February 2011


My second post for today. Please do look at the lovely items in my Folksy Friday blog posted earlier.

I have been promising to finish my Work in Progress blog. Sam had commented that the addition of the layer of organza to the painted fabric caused some of the effect to be lost. I thought I would re-work the next set of photos, showing embroidered inchies with and without organza.

With organza:

and without:

Whilst I do like the effect of the organza, I think Sam might be right!

I have just painted another piece:

Wanting to produce something a little different (and without organza) I stitched Daisy:

I'd like to find other shapes/possibilities for this fabric and have begun to plan an amulet purse.

The Beauty of Wood - Folksy Friday no 33

I have really enjoyed picking out these items for you today. There are so many items to choose from that I will definitely return to the same theme in the future. I hope you like my selection. Click on any item to view it on its Folksy shelf.

Dragon Wood Crafts Tree Gems
Spirit of the Woods Boxio - handcrafted woodwork
Julia's Driftwood Furniture sew Annie sew

Dragon Wood Crafts

Tree Gems

Spirit of the Woods

Boxio - hand crafted woodwork

Julia's Driftwood Furniture

sew Annie sew

Thursday, 17 February 2011

The 'Birds' have Finished the Peanuts?

A little bird-watching from the conservatory, yesterday, gave some surprising results.

When my son was ill for a week or so around just before Christmas, I encouraged him to keep the bird feeders stocked up. Initially I thought the spells of fresh air, albeit ankle-deep in snow, would be good for him, but he actually became quite interested and watched from his bedroom window. We both love the long-tailed tits which visit in winter, and we argued for ages about the identity of small dull sort of tit that neither of us had seen before (ie not blue, great, coal or long-tailed).

A previous post mentioned our discovery of a vole (or maybe voles - but we only see one at a time) which has realised that dropped or discarded nuts or seeds can be found in plenty under the feeders. The surface in front of the arbour is broken green slate and he is easy to watch. Concerned that if we find him very visible, predators will more so, I asked my son to deliberately scatter some seeds under the bench. This seems to have appealed more to birds which find the feeders difficult, so the vole still has to wait his turn.

For weeks my son re-stocked the feeders without being asked, but is now busy, feeling deprived of cycling opportunities by various voluntary commitments - which seem to have piled into the same week, and asked me to do it yesterday. I was looking out to see which supplies I would need for which feeders when something brown and not very bird-like caught my attention clinging to the bottom of the wire peanut holder. Our little furry friend is obviously alive, well and growing in confidence and the peanut holder is now completely empty!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Where did these come from?

I'm sorry - I have allowed myself to become side-tracked again and have still to do the photos for the next work in progress blog.

I was working on some more fabric painted panels for pendants and brooches and wanted a little more fine detail than I was getting with the Caran D'Ache crayons. I remembered having some Derwent watercolour pencils and went to search them out. I didn't find them - which remains a mystery, however, I did find a set of 12 Caran D'Ache Classicolor pencils which I have absolutely no recollection of buying or of  receiving as a gift!

They work wonderfully well - wherever they came from, and I have designed a pendant inspired by my photos in the last post. I won't show you here, since this is not meant to be an extra shop window for my work. It has been listed in Folksy for anyone who is interested. Anyone any suggestions as to the origin of those pencils though?

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Spring is Busting out all over.

Well perhaps a little early to make this assertion yet, but we have had a beautifully sunny day and a quick wander round the garden with the camera recorded the following. ( Installment 3 of Work in Progress temporarily postponed in favour of these!)

Friday, 11 February 2011

The Key to this is... (Folksy Friday No. 32)

(having mislaid keys several times this week) - buy a new keyring!!

What a lovely selection is available from Folksy. Click on any item to view it in its Folksy shop.

Milliebead Pauline Skidmore
Minifelts The Owl & the Pussycat
Little crafting bird D K Crystal Designs


Pauline Skidmore


The Owl & the Pussycat

Little crafting bird

D K Crystal Designs

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Work in Progress 2

The finished painting looked like this

I have marked it into an inch square grid. Next I machine stitch each side of the grid marks to try to reduce fraying:

Then add a layer of organza and machine in place down each side of the grid:

If the design looks a little too 'watered down' after the painting stage I have found that I can pick out some details in ordinary colouring pencils - bearing in mind that my inchies are destined for items that will not be washed. I have tried adding extra detail with the crayons and no water. However, I find that attempts to heat set this just seems to 'melt' off the top layer and this was still happening after three attempts with the iron. I should add that, as pointed out by Sam yesterday, the work should be wrapped in baking parchment to protect the iron!


To set off at a slight tangent - I wondered what effect I could achieve by painting a small design in more detail prior to embroidery. I outlined these poppies in Derwent Colouring pencils and filled them in with the same. I then used the Caran D'ache crayons to 'paint' the background - hoping for not too much bleeding of colour. Either the pencilled areas acted as an efficient resist, or the colour of the pencilled areas was so intense that leaching background colour doesn't show - but whichever, I was pleased with the result:

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Work in Progress - Inchies Pendant

I'll try and keep this brief each day so as not to become too tedious

Starting materials - I actually do this on the ironing board, since it is heat set, hence folded cereal packet to protect the cover from stray paint.

I draw the deign bit at a time. Then 'paint over' with water, heat set by ironing, then draw the next part. The colours bleed really quickly. This amount of decoration at a time allows me to halt the process and fix the design before it all blurs into one!!

Finished painting and next steps in my next blog.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Inch by Inch!

A bracelet formed from inchies.

My last post referred to my newly discovered format of the 'inchie'. In the few days since that post I have been trying out some fabric painting techniques which were new to me. I have produced, and listed. one or two ACEOs.

One of the decorated pieces of fabric from which the 'Dahlias' ACEO was cut, has provided fabric for  a number of inchies. I have discovered why I like the blend of colours so much. They tone perfectly with a favourite summer top. As a result this first bracelet is mine to keep!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

In Miniature!

I have always been interested in the vary small. As a child my favourite dolls were the '6 inch' variety. I delighted in making outfits for them, including matching boots, which I knitted in three-ply yarn on size 12 needles. I was particularly excited when Mum found her pair of 13's, but was still aware that the fibres and stitches were out of scale, although the boots did fit the doll!

My children had a passing interest in doll's houses - the usual 1/12th scale - or at least I did on their behalf - a partially finished one is still on top of my cookery book bookcase.

I have enjoyed the Folksy forum threads on ACEOs and the miniature art thread. I have listed a couple of ACEOs, but find that the amount of detail which I would like to include, is not justified by the ceiling price of £5, so although fun to do - they are not very viable for me. With a few moments to spare yesterday evening, I set off to explore Flickr more fully. I came across 'inchies' ( also twinchies and various others which I did not investigate). Inchies are very small pieces of work - one inch square! (Twinchies - two inches square!)

Most of the stitched examples which I found were textured pieces, small applique, perhaps on layered backgrounds, with added interest from small buttons, charms, sequins etc. They are similar to small portions of crazy patchwork - very attractive, and I am looking forward to trying some.

A few months ago, I made some 'background' pieces for floral embroidery. Mainly layered sheer fabrics - plain and patterned, with some silk fibres sandwiched between the layers. Having formed a few inch x inch tiles from one of these pieces - I stitched the following. Even ordinary sewing thread seems quite chunky - I shall have to look out for some very fine threads. I stitched a composition which is famliar to me to get used to the scale. The finished piece is dwarfed by the miniature easel, which is quite appropriate for ACEOs!

My Grandmother used to say
"Little things please little minds" and it certainly wasn't meant as a compliment!

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Three of a Kind!

For some reason, I tend to think of certain flowers as being suitable for particular types of embroidery. Some work particularly well in silk ribbons, daisies, for example, are effective in wool or cotton threads.

I tend to have three main types of embroidered brooch:
- Stitched in tapestry wool on a knitted background - a bold , chunky effect.
- Embroidered in threads and ribbons on a hand felted background - a dainty effect producing detail in miniature.
- Embroidered in threads and ribbons against a miniature landscape - usually created by applique.

I thought I would challenge myself to pick one flower and represent it in each of the three ways. Three very different brooches, each representing the spring-time beauty of primroses:

Which do you like best? I enjoyed stitching all of them!

Friday, 4 February 2011

Meadows - Folksy Friday No 31

Perhaps a little unseasonal but I have been working on a couple of meadow brooches this week:

I thought I would show you some more summery meadows. Click on any image to see the item in its Folksy shop.

heather richards Ruby Ruby
cassia beck Zebedee
The Old Forge Art Studio Petit Bird mochalulu

heather richards

Ruby Ruby

cassia beck


The Old Forge Art Studio

Petit Bird

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Pass It On!

My textile skills are accumulated, rather than formally learnt. My Mum, Auntie, magazines, books, TV and recently internet - with just a couple of adult education classes - as much for the social side of things as study. Inspiration comes from all of the above, in addition to our garden, natural landscapes etc etc. I think my brooches are quite unusual and at first, I was very unsure as to whether or not I might be the only person in the world who would like them! Perhaps because, without a formal training, I had no  idea what I should be doing, I just tried one or two to see how I could embroider them, finish them and sell them.

Whether or not our skills are formally acquired, I do feel quite strongly about passing them on to others. I have taught both my own children, at least well enough to sew on buttons (and Scout badges!).  I usually have at least one evening of sewing each term at Brownies and the girls seem to enjoy it. What they each do with their skills, whether they choose to develop them further - this is their individual choice. At least I feel I'm doing my bit!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The thing about ironing is....

... its really quite like swimming. Repetitive actions, physical but not requiring much brain activity - and the benefit of both activities, apart from a pile of ironed laundry in the case of ironing - is thinking time.

I used to do a great deal of plotting, scheming and planning whilst swimming for fitness. I must return to the pool as soon as  I can - I'm really very unfit.

My ironing board is in my sewing space. During the course of most days, dried laundry is 'neatly folded' ( believe that of a house with two teenagers and you'll believe anything!) on the ironing board. Each morning I have the choice of moving the 'neat pile' to one side or else getting on with the task of ironing, in order to be able to use the iron for my sewing projects. The pile was unusually large today. The ironing board stands infront of my fabric shelves, and with much time to muse, reject and muse again, I formulated a plan.

These were the result: